The Instigator
Con (against)
6 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
1 Points

All nations have a right to nuclear weapons

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/15/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,413 times Debate No: 46034
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)




Going to try this one again.

As the resolution is pretty straightforward, I won't spend much time specifying in this round, but I will make one thing clear. This is not meant to be a conversation about whether any nation should have nuclear weapons, or whether some nations should. It's a question of whether all nations should have equal opportunities to produce their own nuclear weapons. As such, this applies to every nation, including those that currently have them or are purported to have them. I will request that Pro follow these lines in the debate.

I will define nation, as this can be an ambiguous term:

A relatively large group of people organized under a single, usually independent government; a country. (

However, I will clarify a little more to make this simpler. A nation should be demarcated by defined borders accepted by the majority of the international community. As such, Al Qaida and Hezbollah would not be nations, but Iran and Lebanon would be. If any further clarification is necessary, I will gladly oblige.

The burden of proof will be shared. I will have to make a clear case for why some countries should not be allowed the opportunity to build nuclear weapons, while it is up to Pro to defend why those countries should be allowed said opportunity. It is up to him/her how he/she would like to shoulder this burden within the debate.

I have set it to 5 rounds, 10,000 characters a round, with 72 hours for us to make our arguments. The only restriction I've placed is that you must have completed at least 5 debates. As I am getting extremely tired of forfeits, I will also request that whomever accepts this debate be prepared to take it to its conclusion. If one of us does forfeit without reason, voters are advised to afford the other debater the full 7 points.

The structure of this debate will be as follows:

R1: Acceptance only
R2: Opening arguments and rebuttal
R3: Rebuttals, new argumentation
R4: Rebuttals, new argumentation
R5: Rebuttals and conclusion

And with that, I await my opponent's acceptance and a good debate!


I gladly accept this debate.

Thanks to Con for creating an interesting topic.

Debate Round No. 1


I'd like to start off by thanking my opponent iamanatheistandthisiswhy for accepting this debate. From the looks of his profile and his previous experience debating on this website, I think this should be a stirring debate, and I look forward to what he has to bring to it.

Before I get started, I'd just like to reiterate what I said in the comments section about how this debate should be assessed by voters by the end. Essentially, this should be judged based off of net benefits. If I can show that a world where only certain countries are allowed to research, construct and test nuclear weapons is most preferable, then voters should reward that with a Con vote. If, however, my opponent shows that this world would be better served by allowing all countries the capacity and freedom to pursue nuclear weapons, then those votes should instead be awarded to Pro. I feel this is pretty straightforward, though if Pro has any problems with it, it may be amended.

As I am starting this debate, I will delve into my case, which is composed of 3 basic points.

1. Rogue states and terrorism

This is probably the most obvious point available, but while it sounds simple, there's a lot of complexity to it. We could look at any number of nations we would consider to be rogue states as examples, though Iran and North Korea (NK) come up first and foremost in the minds of most, mainly due to their acquisition of nuclear technologies. I would say that both of these nations meet the definition of a rogue state:

"a nation or state regarded as breaking international law and posing at threat to the security of other nations."[1]

In these cases, both countries pose a threat to their neighbors and, more distantly, to other nations to which they are disaffected. In particular, Iran is considered a major threat to Israel as a result of a number of threats made by the Iranian leadership [2] and its proximity, and NK is a major threat to South Korea due to their ongoing border disputes during this long-suffered armistice.[3] It's likely that none of this is new to anyone reading this debate, we hear about it all the time. But what does it mean that these nations now have access to nuclear technologies? What's changed?

For one, they're using it to threaten their neighbors for these very reasons.[4] While one could argue that they always present a threat, whether they have them or not, the inherent destructive power of a nuclear weapon presents a significantly more dangerous threat. This represents an increase in their coercive powers over other nations, which is a big problem. Our history with NK proves this as they have, again and again, agreed to sign treaties and engage in diplomatic relations that they utilized for their own gain and then discarded. The threat of nuclear weapons has been such that NK has been able to bring the western world to the table, negotiate its acquisition of resources in exchange for long term changes, and then buck the long term changes while keeping those resources.[5] And that would be the best case scenario for NK in the long term, since they have little incentive to change their practices due to China's continued support. But the reality is that they can always use those weapons as well, and as their economy continues to falter, their desperation and even their collapse makes them all the more likely to be used. Even if this process takes a very long time, the uncertainty itself creates a risk of miscalculation that could lead to the use of a nuclear weapon.[6] The possibility that its collapse could lead to the distribution of such technologies to other areas is also a point of concern, as this can create a black market for their distribution (and of the expertise required to make them) to other nations or even non-state actors, as was the case in the wake of the USSR's collapse.[7]

And speaking of non-state actors, it is entirely feasible that the presence of more countries with nuclear weapons increases the chance that they will end up in the hands of rebel and terrorist groups in any number of nations. This doesn't just happen in the event of collapse. Nations with the capacity to make nuclear weapons do not necessarily safely secure those weapons. Whether this is the result of a lack of technology, national instability, or government corruption, this produces "loose nukes,"[8] which are then capable of falling into the wrong hands. There is a persistent concern that such weapons would end up in the hands of non-state actors who have no constituencies to look out for and are not constrained by laws.

It doesn't require instability either. Iran and Syria are reportedly engaging in the practice of smuggling weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon in order to injure Israel without having to engage in war.[9] With Iran's extensive history of ignoring deterrence in this transfer of weapons to these groups, it becomes concerning to think about the possibility of their turning over a nuclear weapon. After all, many of the people in these terrorist groups are willing to sacrifice their lives to cause tremendous harm to a perceived enemy. What's more, it functions in their defense " Iran would see the possibility of a preemptive attack from Israel as something to prepare for, and as such, could easily utilize a proxy terrorist group as an insurance policy.[10] So it presents a very real possibility of nuclear destruction.

However, these are only two examples. We could talk about new governments in Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan, which are fragile and vulnerable to a resurgence of fundamentalist groups. We could talk about Syria, which has proven willing to use chemical weapons at its disposal on its own people. Any one of these could dramatically destabilize their individual regions and the world with a single nuclear explosion.

2. The end of the Responsibility to Protect

Whether we're talking about Syria, Sudan, Rwanda, Libya, Iraq, or any number of other nations where leaders are actively killing their own people in droves, there is a very large need for the international community to intervene in instances of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing.

Now, we can argue about the necessity to intervene in any single situation, and even discuss how effective interventions have been, but I think there is no question that some interventions are required to prevent the greatest transgressions against a people within any given nation. This has also been phrased as the Responsibility to Protect (R2P), which has been an emerging norm in the international community, stating that nations lose their sovereignty when they are not acting responsibly in the protection of their people. The UN Security Council has affirmed and reaffirmed its commitment to this principle since the 2005 World Summit of UN Member States [11], and it was most recently reaffirmed in 2009 by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.[12]

A nation that has nuclear weapons is going to have a very big threat available to it should the international community threaten to take away its sovereignty. Any possibility of military intervention effectively disappears. Contribution to the cause of a given rebel group will be virtually impossible, since those same rebels would then become targets of these dangerous weapons. Interventions and preventative measures of all sorts would essentially become impossible without causing massive internal and external harms.

3. Increased possibility of nuclear war

Nuclear war may never have taken place, but we've come close on multiple occasions.[13] We cannot function based on the mentality that the presence of nuclear weapons will suffice as a preventative measure " if anything, an increased preponderance of these weapons makes the danger that much larger. All of those nuclear scares occurred when just the US and USSR were jockeying for power, both nations with extensive resources and tremendous bureaucracies in place to reduce the capacity of any individual to launch a nuclear weapon. And they still came close to nuclear annihilation at least 20 times.

Now, imagine a situation where you have more countries have control of nuclear weapons. We should be concerned about the possibility that any given nation that has nuclear weapons will simply get upset with a neighboring nation and decide to utilize its weapons. However, the bigger concern is accidental. A perceived threat from another nation could lead to a retaliatory launch, accidental explosions could occur, they could be used by an unauthorized source, as the result of a simple mistake or technological error, or even basic human fallibility.[14] We cannot expect every nation that acquires this technology to also institute a number of fail safes to prevent these from happening.

With that, I will leave it to my opponent to establish his case and rebut mine.



Thanks to my opponent for an interesting opening argument. Let me now present my opening arguments and I will follow them with rebuttals. I apologize in advance that some rebuttals and arguments will overlap, however I do want the arguments to stand alone for ease of reading.

The first argument, and probably most important, I would like to present for the proposition is that of equality. By having different standards for different countries we are essentially saying that some countries are entitled to a differing set of rules than others. This is in direct violation of the United Nations Charter Article 55 section c which states “With a view to the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, the United Nations shall promote: universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion. ”(1) By denying a nation the right to not have nuclear weapons we are directly violating there fundamental freedoms to have the same equal rights as another nation.

My second argument is the argument for sovereignty. Sovereignty can be defined as “supreme authority within a territory ”.(2) Now, even as unpalatable as it may seem to us this means the country in question is entitled to do anything they want in their own country without interference. While we may argue that this does not applying in every situation, for example the Rwandan genocide was a human rights violation.(3) The right of a country to posses nuclear weapons does not mean they are doing anything illegal, or said in another way they are not infringing on anyone’s human rights. If we consider a genocide is pre-planned, and there is doubt whether a government would use their nuclear weapons against their own population. The simple answer is no, as they would effectively be destroying a part of their own country so its an illogical argument and also one we can use for any country that currently has nuclear weapons at present. Consider as an example the NSA spying in the USA, this is a violation of humans rights so should the world not be worrying about the launch of nuclear weapons by the USA government against its own people?(4) The obvious answer is no, but the hypothetical answer in yes.

My final argument for the proposition is that of the threat of nuclear annihilation keeps countries from using these weapons against each other. The Cold War is an example that shows that the nuclear annihilation threat is not real, even though it did come close with the Cuban Missile Crisis.(5) However, this Cuban Missile Crisis also lead to nations learning about the use of nuclear weapons being too dangerous to use. So you may ask why did these nations not disarm after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the answer is simple for protection. It comes down to the selfish desire not to lose, or in other words you annihilate me and I do the same to you.

Now let me move onto some rebuttals.

The first thing I would like to address and ask my opponent to drop from this debate is the issue of rogue nuclear weapons which can be obtained by terrorist groups. Just to clarify, I specifically means lost/stolen nuclear weapons ending up in the hands of terrorists and not the issue of the so-called “rogue” states. The debate is structured around the proposition that nations should have the right to posses nuclear weapons and as such terrorists are beyond the scope of this debate. I believe this is especially true as the initial round for the debate even stated “As such, Al Qaida and Hezbollah would not be nations, but Iran and Lebanon would be. ” Additionally, this argument can be used for any country. It is entirely possible that a terrorist group could obtain a nuclear weapon from any nation that currently possesses nuclear weapons if they can afford the bribes and find someone who is unethical enough to sell them the weapon.

My opponent brings up the issue here of North Korea as “rogue” state that should not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Now while I agree North Korea does fit the definition of a rogue state and should get stopped from doing what they are doing to their civilians. However, they are a sovereign nation and as such we should not be prohibiting their possession of a weapon which is a threat to other nations. In India, there has been the recent decision to re-criminalize homosexuality which is a clear violation of human rights based on sexuality.(6) So, why are we not trying to get India to give up their nuclear weapons, as they can classify as a “rouge” state as well.(7)

Regarding, nations that are acting against their citizens such as Syria, North Korea etc. This in essence is an argument for sovereignty, as there are times the international community should intervene as my opponent has pointed out. However, to think that a country would utilize nuclear weapons within its own borders makes no sense. In effect a country would be making its country smaller and unusable as has been seen in Japan and the recent Fukishima meltdown.(8) Remember, this was a meltdown and not a specific attempt to destroy an area with high grade nuclear weapons which would result in far worse consequences.

Regarding the potential for nuclear war increasing with more countries obtaining nuclear weapons. I would claim this is not true, as most of the close shave nuclear incidents in the Cold War could have been avoided if communications were more advanced as they are today. Additionally, the Cold War was an extremely unique situations, as it was two super powers trying to get ahead of the other.(9) If the USA wanted to they could have ended the Cold War right at the beginning, as they had more nuclear weapons before the massive production started. Essentially the cold war was a war of “I have bigger muscles than you.” This situation is not likely to repeat as we do not have more than one super power at present, and the normal situation by nations will be preventative as in the case of India and Pakistan.

I hand the debate back to my opponent.

Debate Round No. 2


I appreciate my opponent's thoughtful argumentation, and with that, I will launch into some rebuttal of my own.

Pro's arguments boil down to three basic premises for supporting the resolution " equality, sovereignty, and mutually assured destruction " so I will begin by addressing each of those in turn, then getting into some counter-rebuttal.

1. Equality

One, rights exist for those that use them without taking away the rights of others. It's fine for someone to swing their fist at the air, or even to hit something hard and harm themselves. However, it is not alright to inflict injury to others using one's fist. Those equal rights, therefore, disappear when a person uses them to diminish the rights of others. Therefore, a nation that abuses the rights of other nations utilizing this particular right is no longer entitled to it.

Two, let's read that UN quote again. "the United Nations shall promote: universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion." As I brought up with my R2P point in the last round, which went conceded by Pro, the UN has an obligation to prevent a government's transgression against its own people. So based on this respect for "equal rights and self-determination of peoples," the UN can reasonably deny nations that transgress access to more dangerous methods of transgression. I'll get into why nuclear weapons may be used against a country's own people on that point, but even if you don't buy that, this suffices as a reasonable punishment for current transgressions.

2. Sovereignty

First, as long as Pro is conceding the point on R2P, he's conceding that there are reasonable cases for abridging the right to sovereignty, as established by the UN Security Council itself. I defined specific reasons for intervention: "instances of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing." I'd say the fact that the U.S. isn't currently engaging in such rights violations validates our continued ownership of nuclear weapons. Since the vast majority of nations I'm including in my arguments have engaged and continue to engage in these types of violations, denying them access to nuclear weapons prevents further major violations. Again, I will get to the argument of using nuclear weapons on the populace in my counter-rebuttal.

Second, sovereignty only extends to the borders of a nation. Sovereignty ends when you leave those borders. As nuclear weapons present an obvious security threat to other nations, the sovereignty of a nation likely to use or lose their nuclear weapons threatens the sovereignty of other nations. As with my argument regarding equality, a nation's sovereignty is no longer paramount when it is likely to deny the sovereignty of other nations.

3. Mutually assured destruction (MAD)

I'll get into the specific example of the Cold War on my case.

Several responses on MAD.

First and foremost, it doesn't apply to non-rational actors. MAD requires that all actors be perfectly rational. Whether this is the result of hatred, desperation, or simply mental derangement, there is a distinct possibility that this will not be true. Leaders don't always function rationally. Whether we're talking about Islamic fundamentalism and anger towards Israel, or a North Korean leader whose cult of personality makes him out to be the equivalent of a god, MAD doesn't apply to everyone.

Even if they are functioning rationally, there is sometimes a logical reason why an attack would do more harm than a counterattack:

"Twenty-two Arab states comprise more than 5 million square miles and more than 350 million people. Israel has just 8,000 square miles and 7.6 million people. These disparities help to explain why Israel has invested so much in maintaining its qualitative military edge. Israel must possess weapons so powerful that even a united attack by all aggressors in the region is overwhelmingly discouraged."[1]

Two, even if we buy that MAD prevents nuclear wars, it doesn't prevent warfare as a whole. Despite the threat of nuclear launch, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan, the Middle East, the Balkans, as well as many African and Latin American nations have experienced tremendous conflict.[1] And each war creates another opportunity for their use.

Third, MAD is a policy based off of psychology rather than logic. The argument often goes that MAD has kept us safe. "Gen Henry H. 'Hap' Arnold perhaps best answered this by asserting that modern equipment is but a step in time and that 'any Air Force which does not keep its doctrines ahead of its equipment, and its vision far into the future, can only delude the nation into a false sense of security.'"[1] In other words, as nuclear technologies have gotten more destructive, simpler to deliver, and more accurate, and while intel gets better, this concept is disappearing.

The main reason MAD survives is because, when one nation attacks another, the nation being attacked will be capable of retaliating powerfully. The advancement of technology has dramatically altered this dynamic, and as such, has removed the benefit of psychology.

Alright, onto some counter rebuttal.

1) Terrorism

I take issue with the idea that this point should be dropped. The topic is that "all nations have a right to nuclear weapons." I'm not stating that terrorist groups also have that right. I'm stating that a part of providing that right to every country produces concerns that those technologies will disseminate further against international law. The harms of nuclear technologies being lost, given away or stolen, or of nuclear scientists working with terrorist groups, are real and have a place in this debate. And Pro is right " these harms do exist in status quo. But currently, nations that have access to nuclear weapons aren't letting those technologies fall into the wrong hands. The chances of this happening following a more widespread right to develop nuclear weapons increase dramatically for the reasons I've already cited.

2) Rogue states

Pro drops the point on Iran. Extend all my points there about harms to Israel " war between them and nuclear blasts in general would be catastrophic for the region. As for his points on NK, Pro repeats his sovereignty argument, which I've already rebutted.

He also talks about India. Three responses. One, India and NK are two very different monsters. Much as it is an ill-functioning one, India is a democracy, and is therefore dependent on the will of the people. It is allied with western democracies, and is therefore expected to function in a certain way, not to mention held to that by the international community at large. India stands to lose far more than it gains by engaging in misuse of their nuclear weapons. NK lacks those attachments and is a staunch dictatorship, with little incentive to abide international law.

Two, I would hardly regard the human rights abuses of India as being a reason to implement R2P, which again, goes conceded. Their abuses are nowhere near similar to those instigated by NK.

Three, even if we accept that India's a bad choice, expanding the right to nuclear weapon development to a larger amount of countries is not warranted. One fault does not justify another.

3) Utilizing nukes within borders

Pro says that they're not likely to use them within their own borders since it would reduce available land. This isn't true. For one, much of the land within many nations is simply unusable anyway. Bombing an enemy base in a desert or in the mountains is not going to do any significant harm to the country's resources. For another, fallout hasn't been viewed as a big problem for some nations. Syria certainly didn't seem to care when it launched chemical weapons into one of its own towns, which also cause long-term damage to the area. Lastly, this assumes a reasonable mental calculus. If the leadership is on the verge of being deposed, they won't care what kind of harm they do to the country so long as they retain their position. If the leadership is irrational, then they won't be thinking about future implications anyway, and will solely be focused on eliminating the threat in front of them.

As Pro didn't respond to this point, he is granting not only R2P, but also the reality that nuclear weapons make it impossible to intervene in the massive transgressions of many nations. He even recognizes the harm of the Rwandan genocide, the sort of mass death that could easily happen again, except that the policy of allowing all nations to pursue nuclear technologies will ensure that they occur uninterrupted.

4) Possibility of nuke war

Pro claims that more advanced methods of communication will prevent nuclear annihilation. First, while this may be true for preventing misunderstandings, it won't prevent accidental launch. Those can happen independent of communication. Second, military information is still often classified in many countries, and therefore kept secret. Secrecy hasn't disappeared because of new communication technologies, and while communication may prevent certain instances of misunderstanding, it won't stop uncertainties from abounding.

I'm not sure why this point about the Cold War leading to an arms race matters here. A build-up of nuclear arms isn't necessary for someone to find a need to use them. If anything, I would say that the lower level of build-up will lead to fewer countries implementing the necessary fail safes to prevent nuclear explosions.

Alright, with that, I'll leave it to Pro to continue his arguments.



First I want to apologize to my opponent for dropping the Israel example. I initially wanted to address the rouge state issue in totality without focusing on too many specific nation examples. So let me address the Israel question first.

The fact is that Israel who is a nuclear weaponized country is more of a threat to the countries around it than said countries (i.e. non nuclear Iran) are to Israel.(1) This is evidenced in the multiple human rights violations that take place ever year in Palestine committed by Israeli soldiers and the Israeli government.(2) So while it is easy to feel sorry for Israel as every country surrounding them pretty much hates them, they are partly responsible for the situation they find themselves in. In fact the have also been condemned by the UN for violations against Palestinians.

My opponent has said that the UN has an obligation to prevent a governments transgressions against other countries as well as its own people, and as such not all nations should be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Lets now look at the current nuclear weaponized countries and see which of these countries violates human rights (and/or other countries rights) and as such should be stopped by the UN having nuclear weapons.(1) USA, has violated its own peoples rights by spying illegally on its citizens, as well as interfering in other countries inner workings as is evidenced by the highly publicized Wikileaks. China, has committed multiple human rights violations against its own people such as enforced disappearances.(3) Israel has committed multiple human rights violations against the citizens of Palestine, such as blocking exports from the country.(2) India has re-criminalized homosexuality making it an offense to express your sexuality. Pakistan clearly discriminates against its female population.(4) Russia like India displays extreme prejudice based on sexuality, as well as imprisonment of government critics (e.g Pu$$y Riot).(5) France has a ban on the full burqa worn by Muslim women.(6) The United Kingdom is also very well known for its mass surveillance of its citizens.(7) North Korea, well lets just say they are also involved in obvious human rights violation.

These examples show clearly that every currently nuclear militarized nation is in clear violation of UN stipulations. As such all these nations should not have nuclear weapons. If these nations are allowed to have nuclear weapons then every nation should be allowed to have nuclear weapons as they all violate UN laws.

As such we cannot disregard the equality argument as all countries are either guilty or not guilty of human rights violations which should prohibit them from having the right to nuclear weapons. I think the most important arguments in this debate all boil down to this simple argument of equality.

Moving onto the argument for sovereignty. Both my opponent and I agree that the UN should stop sovereign nations in some circumstances from hurting their civilians. The question then becomes, how do we decide where this line of hurt is as I pointed out in the examples above. While my opponent may not agree multiple nations around the world do not trust the USA to be responsible and not use their nuclear weapons against them. We just have to look how the United States has constantly violated national sovereignty by spying as is the case of recent NSA revelations as well as the highly publicized Wikileaks cables. As such the USA is clearly a threat to other nations and should not have nuclear weapons as they do not care about borders, this is contrary to what my opponent would have you believe when he states “the U.S. isn't currently engaging in such rights violations validates our continued ownership of nuclear weapons.

My opponents arguments against Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) are interesting and I want to address them separately. Also, may I say I love this acronym.

First, he says this MAD argument only holds for rational actors. However, the idea of rationality is based on what people believe. For example, as I pointed out above Israel is not as innocent as everyone believes so I would maintain they are not rational actors. Additionally, North Korea has had access to the use of nuclear weapons with two distinctly “irrational” leaders yet they have not used them. As such the rational/irrational argument fails as two irrational nuclearized nations prove that MAD can work in all cases. Remember, these two nations are not even targeting nuclearized nations (so MAD is technically not applicable) and they have not used them.

Next my opponent says there are always wars and as such the opportunity of MAD increases. Interestingly the nuclear powers of the USA, Great Britain and Russia have been involved in major conflicts in Korea, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Afghanistan again, Balkans, Falklands, Somalia etc. Yet, no nuclear weapons have been used by these nations and as shown above the irrational argument fails.

The last argument for psychology neither helps my or my opponents argument, as such I will leave it be.

My opponents argument that terrorists are more likely to get hold of nuclear weapons if more nations are allowed to have them is reason enough then that no nation should have nuclear weapons. This is based on the equality argument, as well as the fact that with nuclear weapons currently available they can fall into the wrong hands, with which my opponent agrees. Personally, I think that putting trust in the current nations that have nuclear weapons is not a good idea as I have pointed out their human rights violations above.

Regarding the rogue states issue please see the various responses I have outlined above. I will specifically reiterate again that the current nuclear nations are not as innocent as everyone believes as is evidenced by their human rights violations. So while Iran may be committing human rights violations, how are they any different to Israel or Russia?

My opponent states that North Korea and India are different beasts, again this is subjective as how do we determine where the line is. Remember there was national outcry when it was discovered that the NSA was spying on its citizens, so much so that some people were calling for the resignation of the President. So yes, one fault does not justify another. But who is at fault, when as I pointed out this is subjective and we are discriminating against others by denying them the same rights we have.

The argument for utilizing nuclear weapons in ones own country again is an argument from irrational/rational thinking. I think I have answered this adequately above. So, yes nuclear weapons can make countries think twice about invading another country. But, as pointed out above the current nuclear powers are no better than other nations when it comes to human rights violations. As such either everyone should disarm, or all countries should be allowed to have them.

Regarding the possibility of nuclear war. Again, if accidents can happen then either everyone needs to disarm or everyone should be allowed to make the mistake.

As I am sure Con sees now, all my arguments boil down to the equality argument.

As such, I hand the debate back to my opponent.
(7) h

Sidenote: The band name from Russia: Pu$$y Riot is considered a profanity lulz.
Debate Round No. 3


Thank you to my opponent for taking the time to address my points thoroughly, and I will now launch into it.

I think we have to start off by taking a step back. The topic is "All nations have a right to nuclear weapons." As such, Pro has the burden to support that within this debate, and as burdens are shared, I have set my burden as defending a standard for who should be allowed to have nuclear weapons. Note that one of those choices, for either side, is not that no one should have nuclear weapons. I even stated in the first round that this was not an option.

This is important, because when Pro makes these arguments of equality, the one where no one gets nuclear weapons is not up for debate here. Only the one where everyone is equal under international law in their ability to legally pursue these technologies is involved.

Now, why would I take the time to mention a position I've chosen not to take? It's because much of the argumentation that Pro has provided is trying to garner benefit from a position that's not his. If anything, it seems to me that many of these arguments come dangerously close to major concessions, but I'll get into that more on the points proper.

I'm going to go ahead and reorganize the debate a little to make it flow somewhat easier.


Reading through Pro's arguments, this seems to have engulfed the sovereignty point, so I'm going to address them together. He's made a few key arguments in this round that should be addressed, and I'll number them as I go.

1. Other countries are transgressors

This is a big one, and Pro makes a lot of hay about how countries that currently have nuclear weapons are violating human rights. I'll letter my responses.

A. "Genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and ethnic cleansing." Remember these? They're part of that R2P point I brought up initially to explain the instances where it is reasonable for the UN to take action and subsume the sovereignty of a given nation. None of the examples he's given suffice as genocide, war crimes, or ethnic cleansing, so at best, he's addressing crimes against humanity. So let's define that.

Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of human beings."[1]

In other words, they don't throw that term out lightly. You cannot simply apply them to every single transgression against personal rights. As such, I wouldn't call the loss of a right to privacy a crime against humanity, as is the case with the U.S. and England. I wouldn't refer to the inability to wear a certain piece of clothing a crime against humanity, as is the case with France. Using the term so broadly diminishes actual crimes against humanity.

So I could argue that the other nations should have their nuclear weapons removed, and that the international community should condemn them for past actions. I won't, but that would satisfy the R2P far better than Pro (which we both seem to agree is good policy, especially for the sake of equality!).

B. Hypocrisy is not reason enough. Pro is essentially spending time here arguing that countries with current access nuclear arms engage in egregious harms against their own people. The fact that these countries engage in harmful behaviors that make them potentially dangerous doesn't mean that we should advocate for every country to present further dangers.

And this is where we come back to the point I made at the start of this round. Bring my terrorist point up here. What does he say in response? He states that nations that currently have nuclear weapons can also have them fall into the wrong hands. Grant that point. No one's had their nuclear weapons stolen that we know of, which is probably the result of too few weapons being too concentrated and well-defended. But they could be stolen anyway. Well, Pro's argument makes this exponentially worse. Now you have nations without the capacity to defend their weapons adequately obtaining them. You have a wider spread of nuclear weapons, making them more closely accessible to terrorist groups. You have some of these nations actively working with terrorist groups, such as Iran with Hezbollah, and therefore incentive to give away their nuclear weapons to non-state actors. Remember, Pro has practically granted that these bombs getting into the hands of terrorists is a horrifying thing to have happen " extend my arguments from R2 to that effect.

I could look at his point on rogue states. Grant that violations occur in nations with nuclear weapons now. It doesn't matter who is at fault. It matters that these countries are blatantly harming their own people and those countries around them. Their access to nuclear weapons increases the harm they can cause, ergo, it exacerbates any problems Pro outlines of current countries having these weapons.

I could look at Pro's response to irrational thinking. I could grant this one too, and state that he's making the problem of intervention all the worse by removing any opportunity to disarm anyone.

Remember, Pro's position does not and cannot include "no nuclear weapons for anyone." So this isn't a part of what he can gain through proclaiming the greatness of equality.

The only actual benefit he's discussed for equality was two rounds ago, and focuses on "stability," "peaceful and friendly relations" and "universal respect for...human rights and fundamental freedoms." I fail to see how he's supported these outcomes with equality in this instance. His equality ensures a far less stable world where rogue states and terrorist groups can acquire nuclear weapons far more easily. His equality ensures that relations become more strained, not less, between countries. His equality prevents any and all preventions and interventions that would protect human rights and fundamental freedoms.

He's completely lost track of his own impacts here. Pro even suggests that a world in which accidental nuclear launches and explosions are far more likely is a good one, stating that "everyone should be allowed to make the mistake." A mistake that ends millions of lives? One is too many, and the mentality that they should be allowed solely for the sake of promoting equality lacks shows some very confounding priorities.

Equality is a great ideal. But as an ideal alone, it serves no purpose. Equality for its own sake has only a perceptual benefit, and the real world effects should take precedence over any perceptual gain.

2. MAD (I love it too!)

A. Rationality is important here, and much as granting Pro's argument benefits my argument in some ways, I can't in good conscience let it go.

He says that Israel is an irrational actor. Israel has never invaded another nation without being attacked first. It has a nuclear stockpile, but has never used it, despite being attacked an incredible amount of times over its short history.[2] No matter how irrational Pro asserts that their leadership is, the fact that they haven't done either of these things bounds their irrationality. As such, for the purposes of this debate, they are rational actors. Whether they engage in human rights violations doesn't make them irrational actors in international conflict.

North Korea, in the meantime, has repeatedly threatened its neighbors with nuclear annihilation. Its leadership believes in its own divinity, it has engaged in a full-scale invasion, has been unwilling to sign any semblance of a treaty (hence its continued armistice), and continues to have military skirmishes over its borders.

Iran, which my opponent barely addressed, is led by radical Islamists, taking this to the extremes by repeatedly calling for the erasure of Israel as a country, and engaging in full-scale invasions into several neighboring countries. Their regular funding and arming of terrorist groups in other countries also showcases an increased irrationality, as these actors are outside of their direct control.

These states are far more likely to act irrationality, and in their irrationality, they are not likely to take the threat of destruction seriously. In fact, Pro presents a solid impact for exactly how this could play out by arguing that Israel has created its own problems. It's also going to respond very violently to any serious provocation on Iran's part, which means that the possibility of being hit with a nuclear weapon, even without its usage, creates a threat of nuclear annihilation. In essence, Iran's irrationality produces an irrational response from Israel that would otherwise be less likely to occur in the absence of nuclear weapons.

But remember, even if Israel is always an irrational actor, that's not reason to afford other states the opportunity to act irrationally with such dangerous weapons. It only increases the likelihood of massive harms.

B. The fact that nuclear weapons haven't been used in decades is not an argument that they will never be used. The more actors who have them, the higher the probability that they will be used, even if it's just out of pure desperation. Pro is not at all responsive to how improved technologies increase the chances of nuclear war occurring. He is also not responsive to my point about how even a rational actor can see a perceived benefit based on how many people are within a small space and how much land they have available. This was the basis of the psychology argument, which Pro disregarded. So long as MAD is only a psychological barrier and not a logical one, it will not remain an effective deterrent to all nuclear war, and therefore every single nation that acquires one is another opportunity for someone to ignore that psychology.



Thanks to my opponent.

I just want to clarify why I brought up the non-nuclear option, as it was not and is not my intention to argue for that. So let me reiterate, if the nations that are currently nuclear powers are allowed to have then everyone is allowed to have. My reason for this is that they are just as dubious as the non-nuclear powers. I was not trying to steer the argument towards no nuclear power, I was doing it to clarify the equality position.

While I can argue here over and over again about different countries as I have done in previous rounds I am not going to. The reason for this is simple, as I believe that these arguments can be boiled down to two differing arguments. My argument that everyone deserves equality, and my opponents argument that some people are better than others i.e. "Iran, which my opponent barely addressed, is led by radical Islamists taking this to the extremes by repeatedly calling for the erasure of Israel as a country, and engaging in full-scale invasions into several neighboring countries." Who cares if they are Islamists? Are the lesser people than us because they believe in the wrong god? Also, Iran has not invaded any country in the last 100 years despite what my opponent will have you believe.(1)

With this insight let me address the main issues I have with the arguments presented in totality, and not address various countries specifically. I think when people read names like North Korea, Libya, Iran, Afghanistan and Iraq it can influence there thinking due to the way these countries are portrayed in mass media. But there are other countries like Switzerland, Brazil, South Korea, Japan and Australia that people would not have issue with to have nuclear weapons. There are also countries like South Africa that have voluntarily dismantled their nuclear weapons, and some people will say they should or should not have again.(2)

One of the arguments presented is basically an argument of "we are better than you", or" we have better everything and so we can do a better job than you". This argument is an argument from superiority and is not justified. In the previous rounds I have shown the so called irrational nuclear powers have not been irrational, so why do we believe they will be irrational? Is it because they are different religion? Is it because they have different schooling? Is it because they do not fit the norms of western society? These countries may in fact do a far better job at keeping there nuclear secrets and nuclear weapons safe than we could ever think of doing. They will do this, as the realize what kind of problems terrorist groups can do. What we in the West deal with as terrorism does not even come to the terrorist groups that often act in these countries.

The next argument I want to address is an argument that can be described by both my opponent and I as shifting the goal posts. The question at hand is where you have draw the line in determining what is or what is not a violation of human rights. In the last round I pointed out multiple examples of human rights violations that some people consider remarkably severe, yet others like my opponent do not. My opponent has given a definition for crimes against humanity which I will paste here, as I really like it.

Crimes against humanity, as defined by the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum, "are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of human beings."

If we look at this definition, it says it an odious (unpleasant) offense that constitutes and attack on human dignity. Again I ask the question what is an infringement of human dignity? I think someone making me say a prayer is an affront to my human dignity as I am an atheist. Some people will say not been able to express their sexuality is an affront to their human dignity. While others consider these example not an affront at all, for the reason that they are on the other side of the opinion. This is why I say human rights infringements are subjective, hell the Nazis even thought they were correct when clearly they were not. This did not stop the Catholic church backing them though and hence claiming that they were not moral monsters.(3) Hence, this whole argument is subjective.

Let me say I don't want anyone launching nuclear weapons by mistake. However, this can happen and nuclear reactors can fail, or a building can collapse and kill a thousand babies. The point is accidents happen everywhere at any time. If we think we can stop them all by trusting those people that we believe are better than others, then we are making a dire mistake. Let me elaborate with an example.

While my opponent may trust the USA, I personally don't. Let me tell you why, the government openly spies on their own people and more importantly they infringe other countries sovereignty. My opponent has dropped this fact that the USA infringes other countries sovereignty. I believe this is as its a bitter pill to swallow and makes pretty much every argument for only some countries having nuclear weapons void.

Maybe I should point out how the US fares against my opponents favorite tyrant Iran when it comes to human rights. Here are the following UN conventions with the date they were ratified by the countries.
UN convention on children's rights (i.e. child labor). US,(not ratified) while Iran (Ratified 1994), Germany (Ratified1992).(4)
UN convention on the prevention of genocide. US (ratified 1988), while Iran (ratified 1956), Germany (ratified 1954). (5)
UN convention on the elimination of race discrimination. US (ratified 1994), while Iran (ratified 1968), Germany (ratified 1969). (6)
UN International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. US (not ratified), while Iran (ratified 1975), Germany (ratified 1973). (7)
Seems Iran and Germany are way more civil countries than the USA. In fact the USA is at least 30 years behind with respect to acceptance of human rights.

Debate Round No. 4


I'd just like to start with a quick thanks to my opponent for making this a strong and intriguing debate. I think this topic has a lot of meat to it, and you've shown that your side is worth defending as well. I thoroughly appreciate his contributions to this debate, and it's been a pleasure to take him on.

With that, I'll launch into some crystallization (which will include the remainder of my rebuttal) and conclude.

By the end of this debate, judges should be asking themselves two key questions:

1) What does an increased number of nuclear weapons in the world mean?

2) Are there countries that should not have nuclear weapons?

So let's look at these individually.

"What does an increased number of nuclear weapons in the world mean?"

This has quite a few components to it. We have to look at the security of those weapons, Responsibility to Protect (R2P), and what a preponderance of nuclear weapons means for both rational and irrational actors, something I'll address on the second question.

But before we can get into that, we have to establish what's actually happening by affirming this resolution. Affirmation means an increased number of nuclear weapons in the world, plain and simple. Pro has conceded that the number of these weapons in the world will increase, as will the number of countries with ownership of them. The fact that South Africa decided to take a different route doesn't change the fact that most countries have hung onto and will continue to hang onto their weapons. Nor does the fact that some nations haven't acquired and aren't interested in acquiring nuclear weapons affect that outcome substantially (though I would say South Korea is interested, especially given concerns about North Korea).

Why do we care? Well, I've provided several important reasons to care over the course of this debate. I've discussed how an increased number of nuclear weapons in more hands increases the chance of nuclear war, and how other conflicts become more likely to erupt between countries due to the tension these create. I've argued that an increased number also increases access by non-state actors, thereby providing an increased opportunity for these people (who, again, lack any attachment to the state and therefore any reason to regard MAD as a problem) to get and make use of them. I've stated time and again that each additional nuclear power is another opportunity for an accidental launch, whether it's due to mechanical failures or human ones. The fact that accidents happen doesn't change the fact that they're more prone to happen when more opportunities are made available. I've also repeatedly emphasized R2P, which my opponent agrees is necessary, becomes impossible in any nation in a world where everyone has access to nuclear weapons. So far, this has gone uncontested.

The main response that Pro brings to the fore here is that countries that currently have nuclear weapons are terrible too. He argues that MAD will solve for any possible strife, and that striving for equality should be paramount. I think I've already shown how MAD doesn't solve (thought I'll get more into that shortly), but the equality point is a bit amorphous. We still don't have a solid idea of why we should prefer equality, or what equality means in terms of outcomes. The outcomes Pro provided in R2 simply don't exist, and as such, we should not prefer equality over the measures of safety I've outlined here. It's great in theory, but when we're talking about the nuclear world, it fails to deliver and only increases existent harms. The presence of hypocrisy alone doesn't validate dramatically changing policy in this manner.

"Are there countries that should not have nuclear weapons?"

The reality is that there are countries that engage in far more of the harms that R2P should be working against. Even if voters are buying this idea that countries that currently own nuclear weapons engage in crimes against humanity, the fact remains that many of the countries that would be acquiring them are guilty of 2 or more of the 4 reasons for intervention. Genocide, war crimes, and ethnic cleansing aren't just crimes against humanity - they show a flagrant disregard for life in all of its qualities. There are simply too many nations that have engaged in these acts recently, and continue to do so. To allow them access to these weapons would allow that disregard for life to be expressed in the most glaring and devastating way possible. At the very least, nations that currently have internationally legal access to their nuclear weapons have drawn the line at human rights abuses. So no, it's not about superiority, which is an argument I haven't made in this debate. It's about realizing that these nations have a dangerous history that could extend into a dangerous present and future.

Even if voters aren't buying that argument, I've shown that extending the right to nuclear weapon ownership to other nations that abuse their people or their neighbors, even if they're doing so to the same extent as current nuclear countries, only spells disaster. All of my arguments outlined under the first question above apply here as well. None of us have to trust any of the nations that currently have nuclear weapons in order to understand that spreading them further to other untrustworthy nations is only going to lead to grievous harm. So no matter what UN conventions have been signed by these nations (none of which are enforceable without the full support of the permanent Security Council, leading to those signatures functioning solely as token gestures)[1], the prospect of providing these supposedly "more civil countries" access simply outweigh any benefits Pro has ascribed. Even if this did showcase a change of heart, it doesn't change the actions that Iran continues to undertake to cause indirect harms to Israel through non-state actors, something that they most certainly haven't backed off on.

But I think to bring the point home about rational and irrational actors, we have to look back at the examples.

Pro finally provides a response about Iran and its actions, though he failed to notice that his own link shows that in the 1980's, Iran did invade Iraq. It was following Iraq's own invasion of Iran, but that doesn't change anything. The fact remains that Iran invaded one of its neighbors. More importantly, and this still goes cold dropped, Iran continues to funnel money and resources to non-state actors in the region like Hezbollah. Pro failed to counter my contention that they would similarly be likely to hand over a nuclear weapon to them, and, as I already outlined above, Hezbollah having a nuclear weapon is far worse than any nation having one, especially since they've shown a proclivity for giving their lives for their cause.

No, it does not have anything to do with the specific religion. It has everything to do with fundamentalism. The reality is that fundamentalist groups control the government of Iran, as they also lead Hezbollah and other terrorist groups in the Middle East. There are fundamentalist Christian and Jewish groups that do dramatic harms, but they don't lead nations or sizable terrorist groups (and certainly not ones that are getting supplied by a legitimate state). So no, it has nothing to do with what god they believe in. It has everything to do with a willingness to put religious idealism at the fore in state policy. Sure, it's possible that nations like Iran will be the most secure with their nuclear weapons, but that would be in direct contradiction to their previous policies.

And the same goes for North Korea, a nation led by a young man who has been told his whole life that he is a deity who should care mainly for his well-being over that of his own people. Comparisons to Nazi Germany don't do it justice, and the blatant disregard for any and all rights, plus the unwillingness to regard human life with much in the way of dignity, should be regarded as important.[2] These are not small issues, they are not subjective comparisons. These are real world concerns that are very blatantly apparent. That's not to mention the fact that North Korea's economy is in terrible shape, as I stated in R2, and that desperation will eventually push them towards an even more irrational state.

To bring this point about rationality and irrationality home, this is really all I'd have to do " showcase that there are nations that have acted and will act irrationally. But I've taken it one step further. I've provided reasons why even rational nations can disregard MAD, making it completely unimportant.

Recall that in R3, I stated several reasons why a perfectly rational state would choose to launch their nuclear weapons first. Whether it has more to do with the concentrations of human beings within a given region, or the reality that technology has made a response to a nuclear attack difficult if not impossible for many countries, rational states can very easily come to the conclusion that their attack will be more devastating than the reprisal. This means that, within this debate, we can easily dismiss MAD as irrelevant. It's not going to stop anyone, though irrational nations wouldn't have been deterred by it in the first place.

So what does this all mean? It means that one of the two positions Pro utilizes for his arguments falls away completely. MAD is not going to do anything here. The only argument that Pro has left is this equality point, and he simply hasn't given a reason to prefer this ideal to the tremendous harms incurred as a result of a larger number of unstable nuclear powers. All of his impacts on this point are simply overwhelmed by the problems he creates.

This is why you should vote Con in this debate. I leave it to my opponent to conclude.



This has been a great debate. I would like to thank my opponent again for an interesting debate and great topic. Its a topic that is of particular interest to me as I originally come from South Africa and so our nuclear history is an interesting one.

In this debate my argument has primarily been an argument for equality of all nations as is required by international laws. In this process I have shown that the current nuclear powers have as many objections against them as do the currently seeking nuclear weapons nations. As such there is no rational argument against allowing some nations to have nuclear weapons over other, unless you believe certain nations are ethically superior to others.

Let me point out again that my opponent has dropped the arguments against the United States of America who have been shown to infringe on other nations sovereignty as well as there own people This is evident in the Wikileaks as well as NSA spying revelations. Importantly, both of these points are reasons my opponent has used as validation that some countries should not have nuclear weapons.

My opponent has particularly hit hard on Iran in this debate, so I will address some of the concerns here. We can criticize Iran for invading Iraq, yet they only invaded Iraq when they had been attacked by Iraq. This invasion was actually helpful to the West in that it stopped Saddam Hussein talking control of the Middle East, even though he tried again by invading Kuwait. We can also criticize Iran for calling for the end to Israel, yet Israel has done called for the end to Iran.(1,2) So, does this name calling warrant Israel as the good guys yet Iran are the bad guys?

I also want to point out that my opponent has said Iran is funding Hezbollah, yet no credible evidence has been giving to verify this. So this link between Iran and a terrorist organization is flawed as it is based on a Jewish Policy Center which is based on assumptions. As such I hope the voters do not get swayed by this terrorist assertion, as it is false. Maybe the voters should remember that such false allegations have also been made against the USA. These were the false allegations that the USA government funded Osama Bin Laden and Al-Qaeda when they were fighting the Soviets.

North Korea are tyrants, I will not deny that. Yet in previous rounds I have shown that these irrational actors are not that irrational. Kim Jong-Il and Kim Jong-Un have not used the nuclear weapons even after multiple warnings that they are going to do it tomorrow. I have also shown that the so called "rogue" states are far better keepers of secrets as they face far bigger terror risks. As such chances that these nations will lose a nuclear weapon is far more limited than a country which does not face these threats on a daily basis.

I believe the voters need to decide how they feel about equality and superiority when weighing up their decisions for voting. Don't be swayed by names like North Korea or Israel, think what you would want if you were in a position where your neighbors had nuclear weapons pointed at you. Think about how it must feel to then be told when you are under nuclear threat "No, you are evil you can't have nuclear weapons".

Now I hand the debate over to the voters.

Debate Round No. 5
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by Aleksandr 6 years ago
It all comes down to less number or more numbers. As well there will always be rants on things like this later on. Will this reduce death, will this not reduce death. Will this make it worse.

I've got a site and shows how much people died and is updated about ever minute.
Posted by whiteflame 6 years ago
I don't think I have to go to that level of specificity on the resolution, especially since it could easily be argued that, even if a few rogue nations misuse nuclear weapons, it's better on the whole that everyone have the right to make nuclear weapons than it would be for only a few to have that right. From my perspective, the resolution doesn't necessitate that Pro must support every single nations' individual right to make nuclear weapons, nor does it require that Pro defend against the possibility of hypothetical countries coming into existence that resemble Nazi Germany. Pro certainly incurs some harms from taking that stance, but mine is far from clean on this one.
Posted by Hierocles 6 years ago
I'd gladly take this debate as the con or maybe I would take the PRO if the resolution was re-worded to
"It is More True Than False that Most Nations Have a Right to Nuclear Technology" I think that provides both sides with equal ground. The resolution, as currently worded, the PRO has very little defensible ground because all the CON has to do is prove at least one nation, because it meets certain morally relevant criteria, should NOT have nuclear weapons and that will effectively negate the resolution because you proved that ALL nations do not have a right. What if a country emerged that was like Nazi Germany, surely you could argue based on generally applicable principles, that a Nazi-like country does NOT have a right to nuclear power because it refuses to abide by the "social contract" of the global community etc. Having to prove that any-and-all countries with contingence have a right to nuclear weapons is indefensible.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by GarretKadeDupre 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: It was difficult for me to follow some points in this debate, but I will do my best to vote objectively. First, I'll give the conduct point to Pro for making me laugh: "[A] building can collapse and kill a thousand babies." Lol. Spelling and grammar was tied. Regarding arguments: Pro had a huge burden of proof he failed to satisfy. It seemed both sides agreed that the UN would be the source of any "right to nuclear weapons." Now, the UN did not explicitly provide this right to any country, but it did say what would make a country forfeit it's rights. To win, all Con had to do was give a single example of a country forfeiting it's rights (which, as I understand, encompasses the right to nuclear weapons). He did so satisfactorily via more than one example. This demonstrates a country without a right to nuclear weapons, making his case. Great debate. Sources are tied because Con couldn't rebut Pro's source accusation. I like Seether btw Pro, I think they're from your country
Vote Placed by zmikecuber 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Going to read and vote on this later if I get the chance.
Vote Placed by Juris_Naturalis 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con upheld his burden of proof better and I felt Pro didn't exactly debate the right to own nukes, but rather, we have them, so they should. The UN quote didn't help his case at all, as nukes can in no way be considered fundamental rights of the government or people.

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